As it celebrates its 60th year, The BFI London Film Festival shows no signs of applying for its bus pass. If anything, it’s upped the pace with a landmark year line-up full of sparkle, originality and variety by the tonne.
After all the four and five star reviews showered on it in Venice, the big question was whether Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ would put in an appearance. The still above is a bit of a giveaway. It’s also one of the LFF’s Headline Galas this year, one of a total of 22, ten of which are linked to the festival’s well-established strands, such as Journey, Dare and Laugh.
The selection of Amma Asante’s ‘A United Kingdom’ to open proceedings and Ben Wheatley’s ‘Free Fire’ to close them had already been well-publicised, although the trailer for Wheatley’s high-octane action flick starring Brie Larson got its first outing at today’s launch and was well received. Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated ‘Arrival’ is new sponsor Royal Bank of Canada’s Gala film, while other Headline Galas include Nate Parker’s ‘Birth Of A Nation’, ‘Manchester By The Sea’ with Casey Affleck as the reluctant guardian of a teenage boy and Oliver Stone’s long-awaited ‘Snowden’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role. Strand Galas include ‘Bleed For This’, with Miles Teller as real-life boxer Vinny ‘Paz’ Paziena, and Adam Driver as a bus driver-come-poet in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Paterson’.
Those are just the headlines, though. Beneath them is a layer of movie riches that will satisfy any film fan. With a total of 350 features and shorts on show this year, there isn’t the space to mention all of them, so here’s some stand-outs. Aussie director/writer Ivan Sen returns to the LFF with ‘Goldstone’, after his first “outback noir” feature, ‘Mystery Road’ in 2013. David Lynch fans have their favourite director all to themselves in the documentary ‘David Lynch:The Art Life’. The resurgent Isabelle Huppert appears in no less than three separate films, including ‘Elle’ directed by Paul Verhoeven, while Kristen Stewart continues to delight fans and confound detractors in ‘Personal Shopper’.
Family films, including ‘Trolls’, treasures such as Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan’ and gritty Brit flick ‘Hell Drivers’ with a pre-Bond Sean Connery, screen talks from the likes of Ben Wheatley and Werner Herzog and more cinemas on the roster, including the Prince Charles Cinema just off Leicester Square and a whole new temporary cinema on The Embankment ……. the list goes on. And it’s some list.
The BFI London Film Festival 2016 runs from Wednesday, 5 October to Sunday, 16 October inclusive. Public booking opens on Thursday, 15 September and the full line-up is available on the BFI website.
Here’s to a vintage LFF!